Wisconsin legislators want to implement stiff penalties for speeding around sanitation workers
State Representative John Jagler (R-Watertown) and State Senator Paul Farrow (R-Pewaukee) sent a simple message for Wisconsin drivers: slow down around garbage trucks. To encourage this, they have introduced legislation in Madison. Jagler’s Assembly Bill 159 was introduced on April 17, and Farrow’s companion bill was scheduled to be introduced shortly thereafter. The Wisconsin chapter of the National Solid Wastes Management Association (NSWMA), the association representing the private-sector solid waste and recycling industry, supports Assemblyman Jagler’s and Senator Farrow’s bills.
This legislation would double the minimum and maximum forfeitures for certain speeding violations and the minimum and maximum forfeitures or fines for reckless driving violations committed where sanitation workers are at risk from traffic and the driver knows or should know that sanitation workers are present.
These bills were spurred by a January 5, 2012 accident in Stoughton, Wisconsin, involving Mark Friend, a 36 year old sanitation worker from Ixonia, and the father of two young boys. For an hour that morning, Friend was pinned between his garbage truck and the car of a 21 year old driver who, according to police reports, never slowed down. Friend was in a coma for two weeks and doctors had to amputate his left leg. Miraculously, he left the hospital after two months and is now recovering at home. He is still dealing with internal and external injuries from the accident, however.
Drivers who are distracted – or just going too fast – are a major hazard for sanitation workers. Just six months before, during his 2012 campaign, Friend told then-candidate Jagler that he was worried that it was just a matter of time before he or one of his co-workers got hurt.
“Driving safely should be the top priority for anyone getting behind the wheel of a vehicle,” said NWSMA president and CEO Sharon H. Kneiss. “This kind of legislation may make someone more careful next time they pass by a garbage truck. We want all our sanitation workers to come home every day, safe and sound.
NSWMA has championed safety for years. It’s Slow Down to Get Around national campaign reminds motorists to drive more carefully near solid waste collection vehicles. Motorists are often distracted while driving and frequently crash into collection employees or vehicles – sometimes with fatal consequences.